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Heroic Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps: Collected last
letters of lost youth
(1983)

 
Last Letter of Ensign Sōji Horie

At 0515 on May 12, 1945, Ensign Sōji Horie took off from Kushira Air Base as navigator/observer in a Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber (Allied code name of Kate) carrying a 800-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa at the age of 23. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps 3rd Seiki Squadron [1] from Hyakurihara Naval Air Group. He was from Nara Prefecture [2], attended Tōkyō University of Agriculture, and was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei).

He wrote the following final letter:

Everyone departed from the second squadron formation, and I alone have been left behind. They say that remaining cherry blossoms also will fall, but I truly do not regret this.

I could not do anything to separate myself from Yokoyama, who shared a room with me since my days at Atsugi, no, actually since Tsuchiura. However, at 8 a.m. this past April 5, he was sent off by everyone under the commander. He went directly south and gathered with others at a special attack base in Kagoshima. At 1300 on April 12, he took off from the base and headed toward the enemy task force for an attack [3].

This day the enemy had a powerful force with a core of a group of battleships, but the special attack squadrons bravely opened up strikes against it and achieved brilliant results in battle by thunderous attacks that sank or damaged one battleship and four cruisers or other ships. However, among these Yokoyama's aircraft had poor radio telegraph contact, and his definite battle results are unknown. However, since it was confirmed that he arrived at the battle area, probably he was included among those great battle results. It is extremely regrettable that nothing concrete was confirmed.


Letter translated by Bill Gordon
April 2018

The letter comes from Kitagawa (1983, 208). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Kitagawa (1983, 208) and Osuo (2005, 224).

Notes

1. Kitagawa (1983, 208) indicates that Horie was a member of the 2nd Seiki Squadron, but Osuo (2005, 224) states that he was a member of the 3rd Seiki Squadron.

2. Osuo (2005, 224) states that Horie was from Nara Prefecture, but Kitagawa (1983, 208) indicates that he was from Ōsaka City.

3. On April 12, 1945, Ensign Tamotsu Yokoyama took off from Kushira Air Base as navigator/observer in a Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber (Allied code name of Kate) carrying a 800-kg bomb and died in a special (suicide) attack off Okinawa. He was a member of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps Tokiwa Chūka Squadron from Hyakurihara Naval Air Group. He was from Miyagi Prefecture, attended Meiji University in Tōkyō, and was a member of the 13th Class of the Navy's Flight Reserve Students (Hikō Yobi Gakusei). (Osuo 2005, 222-3)

Sources Cited

Kitagawa, Mamoru, ed. 1983. Sōretsu kamikaze tokkōtai: Kaerazaru seishun no isho shū (Heroic Kamikaze Special Attack Corps: Collected last letters of lost youth). Tōkyō: Nihon Bungeisha.

Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.